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Curriculum Change Plan — How to Implement a New School Curriculum

Lockridge holds an EdS in Curriculum and Instruction, an MS in Elementary Education, and a BA in History. She also homeschools her children.

Choosing a new curriculum can be just as tough as implementing a new curriculum.

Choosing a new curriculum can be just as tough as implementing a new curriculum.

Selecting a new curriculum for your school or school district can be daunting enough. After months — and possibly years — of deliberation and research, you've narrowed the field to one book or set of books for your subject. But just how do you actually implement the new curriculum into the school? Tossing the new book at a teacher as you pass by her room certainly isn't the best way, and springing the changes on parents and students a like can be too upsetting. And don't forget about the anxillary services in your school too — for example, Librarians may need to order new books and the school many need extra supplies for activities.

The following is a list of ways to implement a new social studies curriculum, with a brief explanation of the anticipated time it will take to fully realize the new school curriculum.

Coordinate a meeting with the curriculum selection committee to present formal findings and recommendations of the new history curriculum to the school administration, entire school staff and parents. Include a list of units or chapter headings so that attendees have a general idea of what to expect from the new curriculum. Remind teachers and parents how the new curriculum reflects the school’s vision and aims.

Place an order for the new curriculum with enough time to ensure teachers can review the curriculum and become familiar with it before using it for the new school year begins. Jones and Duckett suggest that educators need between 9 and 12 months to plan and prepare for a new curriculum change.

Encourage an open dialogue between the school administration and parents to address any controversial issues or concerns about the new curriculum. Remember, an open dialogue between teaching staff with the appropriate pedagogical knowledge results in a greater commitment to the curriculum.

o Explain how the new history curriculum flows sequentially and is logical.

o Remind parents and teachers how the new history curriculum will weave character principles into the classroom.

o Look for enthusiasts of the new curriculum– such as parents, teachers and other support staff — to help motivate change and encourage non-enthusiasts.


Blackaby, H. & Blackaby, R. (2001). Spiritual leadership: Moving people on to God’s agenda. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group.

Jones, C. & Duckett, I. (2006). Planning and managing curriculum change. London, England: Learning and Skills Network.

Knight, G. R. (2006). Philosophy & education: An introduction in christian perspective. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press.

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Parkay, Forrest W., Hass, Glen & Anctil, Eric J. (2010). Curriculum leadership: Readings for developing quality educational programs. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Sng, B.B. (2008). Surface or deep change? How is a curriculum change implemented at ground level? The International Journal of Educational Management, 22(1), 90-106. doi: 1440841251).

Van Brummelen, H. (2002). Steppingstones to curriculum: A biblical path. Colorado Springs, CO: Purposeful Design Publications.

Wade, R. (2002). Beyond expanding horizons: New curriculum directions for elementary social studies. The Elementary School Journal, 103(2), p. 115-130. Retrieved from

Wrigley, T. (2011). Paradigms of school change. Management in Education 25(2) 6-66. doi: 10.1177/0892020611398929.

Plan a meeting between teachers within each grade level to discuss possible activities to implement with the new curriculum, once the teachers have had a few weeks to review the curriculum. Look for ways connect real-life to community values.

Plan a meeting between teachers within each grade level— but from other subject areas —to coordinate elements of thematic units. For example, integrate thematic units in the literature classroom to enhance deeper understanding.

o Teachers deliver a list of needed supplies for activities to school administration.

o School administration informs librarians and other ancillary staff of needed new supplies, such as computer programs and new books that will supplement the new curriculum.

o Librarians and ancillary staff research free supplemental materials online or through local educational authorities.

Ease the transition between the old and new curriculum standards by implementing a pilot or researching phase the last month or two before the end of the current school year; this allows teachers to work with the program first-hand and get students to become excited about the new curriculum before it is fully incorporated the following year.

o Look for ways to donate or recycle old textbooks and teaching materials.

Evaluate the effectiveness of the new curriculum once it has been established. Compare test scores to old data and distribute questionnaires to parents, students and school staff.

NOTE: Total timetable from curriculum selection meetings, planning and integration should take one to two years, suggests Jones & Duckett.

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